Sunday, January 30, 2011


Eric Allie captures perfectly the difference between rhetoric and reality in this cartoon:

Obama, the perfect postmodern President is a master at the art of rhetoric--which is at the heart of all progressive postmodern leftist attempts to obtain and consolidate power. With postmodern rhetoric you can "talk" tough, but carry a limp stick. You can say whatever your audience at the moment wants to hear and still be philosophically consistent when you do exactly the opposite. Or you can say the opposite to a different audience (just like these guys) since truth is not the objective; only manipulation and deceit to achieve the desired political effect.

It's a sleight of hand known as using "contradictory discourses" and it is a political strategy where truth is rejected explicitly and consistency is an extremely rare phenomenon. As I said, what matters more than truth (or honesty) is achieving the desired political outcome (i.e., getting others to believe what you want them to believe about what you believe).

It's all very postmodern; very philosophically chic; and very Obama and the left.

What's important to the postmodern demagogue is the language's effectiveness at achieving the desired result. Stephen Hicks wrote in Explaining Postmodernism[pages 175-177]:
To the modernist, the "mask" metaphor is a recognition of the fact that words are not always to be taken literally or as directly stating a fact--that people largely use language elliptically, metaphorically, or to state falsehoods, that language can be textured with layers of meaning, and that it can be used to cover hypocrisies or to rationalize. Accordingly, unmasking means interpreting or investigating to a literal meaning or fact of the matter. The process of unmasking is cognitive, guided by objective standards, with the purpose of coming to an awareness of reality.

For the postmodernist, by contrast, interpretation and investigation never terminate with reality. Language connects only with more language, never with a non-linguistic reality....

For the postmodernist, language cannot be cognitive because it does not connect to reality, whether to an external nature or an underlying self. Language is not about being aware of the world, or about distinguishing the true from the false, or even about argument in the traditional sense of validity, soundness, and probability. Accordingly, postmodernism recasts the nature of rehtoric. Rhetoric is persasion in the absence of cognition....

Hicks goes on to note that:
Language is a tool of social interaction, and one's model of social interaction dictate what kind of tool language is used as....

And so given the conflict models of social relations that dominate postmodern discourse, it makes perfect sense that to most postmodernists language is primarily a weapon.

This explains the harsh nature of much postmodern rhetoric. The regular deployments of ad hominem, the setting up of straw men, the regular attempts to silence opposing voices are all logical consequences of the postmodern epistemology of language. Stanley Fish, as noted in Chapter Four, calls all opponents of racial preferences bigots and lumps them in with the Ku Klux Klan. Andrea Dworking calls all heterosexual males rapists and repeatedly labels "Amerika" a fascist state. With such rhetoric, truth or falsity is not the issue: what matters primarily is the language's effectiveness.

If we now add to the postmodern epistemology of language the far Left politics of the leading postmodernists and their firsthand awareness of the cirses of socialist thought and practice, then the verbal weaponry has to become explosive.{emphasis mine]

Got all that? Now if you'd like to have a perfect example of how a slick leftist/ postmodernist uses language and rhetorical skill to manipulate and produce maximum effectiveness depending on his audience; and the way a modernist (i.e., someone connected to reality, truth, and reason) unmasks them and reconnects them with reality (whether they like it or not), then check out the differences between Obama's SOTU speech and Paul Ryan's response.

You might also note the rise in ad hominem attacks directed at Ryan who is able to clearly and logically (and without all the "winning the future" BS) express the illogic of the Obama's failed approach to the economy. This tactic too, is a direct outcome of postmodern rhetoric. All threats to the effectiveness of their message must be attacked, just as Sarah Palin has been demonized ever since she became a visible and popular figure in the GOP. George Bush, of course, is the perennial fallback guy to blame for anything that goes wrong in the world (Chris Matthews recently blamed him on Hardball for the riots in Egypt--and, I don't think it was to compliment him); and meanwhile, Obama's trusty minions hardly notice the cognitive dissonance required to compare the empty suit with FDR one minute and Ronald Reagan the next.

In postmodern philosophy and rhetoric, the left and its mouthpiece Obama have found the perfect epistemological, ethical and political vessel to reassert their ideology--an ideology that requires the willing suspension of reality by its adherents to "win the future."

Friday, January 28, 2011


I was the Crew Surgeon for the Challenger mission and wrote about my experience on that day here.

On the 20th anniversary of Challenger, I wrote:
I still believe that space exploration and colonization is the destiny of humanity and that one day our decendants will fly from star to star the way we drive from city to city. I no longer imagine them flying in NASA spacecraft, however. The astronauts of Challenger and Columbia are some of the pioneers that slowly but surely bring us closer to that dream. To all of them I say, the dream is alive and well...but that NASA stopped dreaming a while back and is now just semi-comatose.

The human race will someday live in outer space exploring strange, new worlds; we will seek out new civilizations and go where no one has gone before--but it will be through the courage of private citizens whose boldness is not limited by a risk-adverse and earth-bound government bureaucracy. I personally look to them to bring the future.

25 years on, I still believe.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


After watching the SOTU, I'm with Rand Simberg--Enough with the 'Sputnik moments' already:
As a space-policy analyst, whenever I hear about a “Sputnik moment” from a politician, I shudder, because I can be almost certain that it will have nothing whatsoever to do with Sputnik, let alone space policy. It is almost guaranteed to be a foolish and false analogy, just like “If we can land a man on the moon, why can’t we etc.”

Sputnik, like Apollo, was a unique event in American and perhaps even human history. It was the heart of the Cold War. We were in an existential battle with an enemy (the Soviet Union) over the capability to bombard each other with nuclear weapons.

Sputnik was about pure, raw technological skill, in an area where we felt vulnerable at the time. It had nothing to do with what made America exceptional.[emphasis mine]

What made America 'exceptional' is the moral and political vision of its Founders, who clearly understood that a country established on the principles of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' was, not only an historical anomoly, but also represented the embodiment of the highest values to which mankind could aspire.

What continues to make America exceptional is the extent to which we still live up to those same values bequeathed to us by a group of exceptional and extraordinary men.

To the extent that we deviate from their vision, we become merely ordinary and mediocre at best; self-destructive and suicidal at worst; 'just one of many nations' and nothing special at all, in a world where, "On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad."

When Sputnik was in the news, as Simberg notes, we were in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union; and their launch of a satellite into outer space reminded us in a number of ways that our very existence was at stake. The technological breakthroughs that followed were simply that: technological breakthroughs. And they were made possible because we firmly believed in our exceptionalism in those days; we did not need to be convinced that our way of life was superior to the Soviet communists--we knew in a fundamental way that our freedom was superior to their collectivism. If we had believed that we were nothing special; that the Soviet Union was just as good in every way and possibly even morally superior to us (as a very small minority did at the time) then we might have settled for the just "one of many" nations" talk back then and stood by while communism spread its poison around the globe.

But on a very visceral level, Americans knew better then.

Today, even though we fight an existential enemy who makes a practice of hiding in caves and forcing 50% of its population to hide under black shrouds to make them invisible; even though this existential threat to our way of lfe is unbelievably primitive in not only its ability to create new technology, but also primitive and medieval in its choice of human values; they are able to use exactly the same technology that we have access to.

But, they are more than equal to us in one very important way: while we have moved away from the moral clarity that those who founded America had; away from the values that are our birthright; they have wholeheartedly embraced the values of death and destruction and have no ambivalence whatsoever. We do not believe in our heart of hearts anymore that we are exceptional; we have even elected a President who does not believe it and tolerate it while he makes sure the rest of the world understands how ordinary we are, even as he placates us here at home with faint praise of our unexceptional exceptionalism. (See the SOTU address by the President this week).

Instead, our culture and values are considered by many to be 'equal' to those of the Islamists--and there is even a significant number of people in this country who believe that we are morally and culturally inferior.

Technological skill is not going to be the deciding factor in this war because the primitives of Islam can use the same technology we do; and they have fewer moral and ethical restraints to do it (witness how Iran is well on its way to nuclear capability and what they will do with that capability as soon as it is fully operational; note how Pakistan already has nukes and has sold them to the highest bidder and so on.

No, the only way that we can win over this existential enemy is to once again dedicate ourselves to the moral and political vision of the Founders. We must again develop the moral clarity to be able to appreciate that America is exceptional because our culture of freedom and its reverence for life is exceptional and utterly unique in all of history; that our reverence for individual rights and the cultural sanction to pursue one's own individual happiness is the highest moral virtue; that the rule of law and not of men is a blessing; and that a limited government is absolutely essential to safeguarding all these freedoms.

These exceptional, remarkable ideas are the true reason we are, and should always be, what Ronald Reagan called 'the shining city on the hill' and a beacon to the rest of the world. In fact, these simple ideas are so superior; so incredible and so worth living--and even dying--for, that they can never be completely taken away from humanity; nor will they ever perish permanently from this Earth...

...unless we ourselves kill them or allow them to die. Only then, will the primitives, who desire with all their hearts the death of these ideas, have a clear path to turn back history and plunge the world back into the medieval horrors of the past.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This post at Ace caught my eye the other day because it has key information in it that supports a thesis I have written about several times on this blog: specifically that the socialist revival in the 21st century has four components:

-Terrorism (especially the rise of Islmaofascist terrorism) and the use of violence to achieve political objectives
-Politically Correct Thought and Rhetoric
And, last but not least:
-Leftist Environmentalism

Here is the key quote from one of the founders of Greenpeace:
The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.

Of course, the leftist environmental agenda is not the only way that the neo-Marxists hope to regain power. One of the most useful tactics that is used over and over again in all the above progressive neo-Marxist strategies is not only to cloak their real anti-capitalist, anti-globalization and anti-American agenda by hiding under "political correctness" , "multiculturalism" and "saving the planet"; but also to transfer their own motivations to their political opponents (we refer to this as psychological projection).

Stanley Kurtz, author of Radical in Chief, takes aim at this tried and true political ploy by focusing on its most recent incarnation in the media--specifically the attempt to portray violence as something encouraged by the right, even as they defend--of all people--France Fox Piven:
Peter Dreier is the latest entrant into the roiling controversy over conservative criticism of leftist strategist Frances Fox Piven....

As much as anyone, Dreier has made the case that community organizing is a quiet and slow-motion way to move America toward socialism. Dreier also adapted Frances Fox Piven’s targeted “crisis” theories to a wider political milieu. He was one of the first to float the idea that flirting with a general fiscal crisis through a steady but politically irreversible expansion of America’s entitlement system would be the smart path to socialism in the United States. Along with his colleague John Atlas, Dreier has positioned himself as a sympathetic academic outsider inclinded to defend ACORN from criticism by conservatives. In fact, as I show in Radical-in-Chief, Atlas and Dreier worked with ACORN behind the scenes to influence housing policy in the Clinton administration, so their outsider status is open to question. Obama may well have encountered Dreier at the Socialist Scholars Conferences he attended in the mid-eighties, but I argue in the book that regardless of that, Dreier’s theories have had a seminal influence on the world of socialist community organizing and, through that world, on Obama. That Obama chose Dreier as an advisor in 2008 only drives home the point.

Now that the left has decided to use the Tuscon shootings as a way to ban criticism from conservatives, Dreier is out with a piece at the Huffington Post following up on the strategy. The latest scheme is to use threats and hate mail directed at Dreier’s leftist colleague, Frances Fox Piven, to pull Glenn Beck’s show off the air and shut down Piven critics (and Dreier critics) like me and Ron Radosh. Dreier is clearly using the Piven controversy to try to discredit my book, with its many revelations about his own problematic activities....

Dreier’s defense of Piven is completely at odds with the upshot of her writings, which lovingly chronicle efforts by community organizers to intensify riots and violent protests. I explain Piven’s strategy on NRO’s homepage today in “Frances Fox Piven’s Violent Agenda.” Dreier’s efforts to turn Piven into a latter-day incarnation of Martin Luther King are absurd.

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are the handy dandy targets of these socialists because (1) they are very visible and are key figures on the right; and (2) more importantly, they dare to expose the hidden socialist agendas of today's neo-fascist leftists.

Where was all the left's outrage at their own media darlings (e.g., Olbermann et al) who were much more overt, hateful and specific in their desire for violence toward those they disagreed with? You see they get a twofer: on the one hand they get to project their own motivations for violent upheaval and overthrow of America onto their opponents; and on the other hand they get to carry on about "hate speech" and cleverly suggest that such speech must be controlled and stopped at all costs--even personal liberty.

But hate speech codes are nothing more than an attempt to criminalize one's political opponents and those who truly support liberty, whether they are on the political right or left, should strongly oppose all such efforts. Sadly most on the left these days only give lip service to liberty because they are too busy trying to implement their hidden socialist agenda which is more important than freedom in their eyes.

Glenn Reynolds has more about the real kind of hate speech that deliberately encourages violence:
PROFESSOR ANN ALTHOUSE DELIVERS A SOUND THRASHING: “History tells us” something that history doesn’t tell us, say sociologists stumbling to protect Frances Fox Piven."
So vigorous debate about Piven’s ideas is really important, but it better be the right kind of debate by the right kind of people and most certainly not that terrible, terrible man Glenn Beck. She’s very lofty and serious, so, while she should be challenged, she must be challenged only by lofty and serious individuals, and of course, Glenn Beck is not one. . . .

Does lofty, serious, intellectual sociology involve looking at evidence and analyzing it rationally? Linking the Tucson massacre to hot political rhetoric was a rash mistake made by demagogues — you want to talk about demagogues?! — demagogues who were slavering over the prospect of a right-wing massacre that would prove politically useful. . .

So Piven should not have called for “something like” Greek-style riots, and it was good of Glenn Beck to point out that Piven crossed the line, right? I mean, we’re dedicating ourselves to serious, undistorted analysis here. That’s what you said you wanted, didn’t you?

At the center of all psychological denial is a hidden or cloaked agenda. Denial can take many forms, as I have noted previously many times; and one of the more immature and damaging forms is through psychological projection. In projection, the individual remains oblivious to the fact that he owns and is responsible for the emotions that he imagines are in the person or group into which he is projecting. In other words, ownership of the idea and/or affect is banished from the self. This is the source of much of the violence in the world and often mutates into outright paranoid and delusional thinking.

That is how, despite all evidence and facts to the contrary; despite however many times reality slaps them down and shows them how much misery, death, and human suffering their pathetic ideology causes; today's progressive, neo-Marxist/socialist leftists always remain pure and shining examples of "The Good"--in their own deluded minds anyway.

Needless to say, this is how Pure Evil manages to infiltrate its way into the real world.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


This op-ed from Heather Wilson is interesting as a follow-up to my post on "Bringing Forth Monsters" and how today's postmodern educational system is creating non-thinkers:
For most of the past 20 years I have served on selection committees for the Rhodes Scholarship. In general, the experience is an annual reminder of the tremendous promise of America's next generation. We interview the best graduates of U.S. universities for one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed on young scholars.

I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years - not about the talent of the applicants but about the education American universities are providing. Even from America's great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.

As a result, high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.

Unlike many graduate fellowships, the Rhodes seeks leaders who will "fight the world's fight." They must be more than mere bookworms. We are looking for students who wonder, students who are reading widely, students of passion who are driven to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the broader world through enlightened and effective leadership. The undergraduate education they are receiving seems less and less suited to that purpose.

An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president's health-care bill but doesn't really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn't really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn't seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution.

When asked what are the important things for a leader to be able to do, one young applicant described some techniques and personal characteristics to manage a group and get a job done. Nowhere in her answer did she give any hint of understanding that leaders decide what job should be done. Leaders set agendas.

I wish I could say that this is a single, anomalous group of students, but the trend is unmistakable.

What Wilson is describing are the inevitable consequences of a philosophy that celebrates moral relativism and encourages nihilism even as it discourages rational thought. The philosphy is postmodernism.

These college students are the poster children of progressive postmodern intellectual 'thinking'; steeped in the political correctness of our day; marinated in the metaphysics and epistemology that are the foundation of its moral relativism. They go to college to learn to think and instead learn how not to. They believe in nothing and stand for nothing. They are taught to mindlessly mouth the same old tired and worn self-serving platitudes of a defunct and dangerous world view.

Here is more information to absorb, if you are not convinced of the dead-end intellectualism of today's postmodern thinkers (and read Zombie's entire essay and how he gets to this conclusion):
It’s not that the essay’s author, former New York Times Bureau Chief and current anti-imperialist professor-activist Stephen Kinzer, is wrong about his facts: it’s quite true that life under a totalitarian police state is often safer and more secure than living in lawless anarchy. That’s why the war-torn masses throughout history sometimes clamor for peace even at the cost of their own freedom. Yet forgotten in Kinzer’s approval of oppressive societies is that wannabe dictators always use this excuse to justify their crushing of human rights: We need to remove your freedom in order to guarantee your safety. Never mind that the new regime was usually one of combatants endangering the citizenry in the first place.

No, the issue is that Kinzer seems to have just now woken up to a phenomenon that many of us have known about for quite some time — that the human rights movement “has in recent years become the vanguard of a new form of imperialism.”

The only error in that statement is the word “recent.” The notion of “universal human rights” was formulated in the West and is the basis of Western civilization; and the the notion of bringing these “Western values” to oppressed and backward peoples has been the goal not just of the modern human rights movement but of missionaries, do-gooders and yes, even the American military for quite some time.

Kinzer has freshly arrived at the blinding and quite correct realization that the “human rights movement” and “Western imperialism” are one and the same. And having become aware of this, you’d think that as a human rights activist, he’d have a life-altering epiphany: Perhaps I’ve been wrong about what I call “imperialism” this whole time. Maybe it is a force for good after all.

But no. Standing on the brink of a psychological breakthrough, Kinzer turned the other way and instead had a breakdown. Pinioned by the idée fixe that America and imperialism and Western values are always and irrevocably wrong, when faced with the fact that human rights are a subset of Western values, Kinzer felt he had no choice but to discard his belief in human rights. Which must have been quite difficult for someone who formerly regarded himself as a human rights activist, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

This is why you can't argue with that biochemistry major who wants to be a doctor and supports Obamacare. Supporting shit like this is WHAT YA DO--if you want to describe yourself as a "caring, compassionate person". You can't even debate the issue with him or with the person who thinks the great powers should give up nuclear weapons--I mean, who cares about the practical, real-world outcome of that? RHETORIC is more important than reality. FEELINGS are more important than reality (in fact, they are obviously the ONLY reality to this generation of 'leaders' and 'thinkers'). GOOD INTENTIONS always seem to trump how things actually work out in reality.

Jonah Goldberg calls this the "decline of leadership."

As depressing as that is, the reality is more than that.

I think we are witnessing the consequences of having the best minds of several generations systematically hobbled and and mutilated by the gurus of political correctness and moral relativity. I think that the essential nihilism of the postmodernism intellectual craze is coming to full fruition and that the decline of leadership is just one obvious symptom. Even more insidius is a steep decline in the ability to think that is coupled with a real contempt for reason, truth and objective reality.

Joseph Stalin once pointed out that, "Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”

Our children have been deliberately targeted for decades; they have been in the crosshairs of the dead-end philosophy that drives the postmodern progressivism of today's 'intellectual' elites. Sadly, those elites have scored a bullseye.

No, there are no psychological breakthroughs on the horizon for these reality-challenged minds, or for their mentors. There is only the mindless parroting of the dysfunctional ideology for which they have gladly sacrificed their souls.

But hey! Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

[Political cartoons by Eric Allie]

Friday, January 21, 2011

KILL THE BEAST (Or, is it too un-PC to say that?)

I said all I have to say about Obamacare before it was passed....The zombies won that battle; but they have not won the war. Now there is an opportunity to kill the damn beast--or dismantle it piece by piece-- and Republicans must go for it. Polls say the public wants it gone; 27 states are sueing the Federal government to stop it from being implemented; and here is a video ad that I think is straightforward and to the point. Let's kill this beast once and for all.

(With apologies to The Eagles....)

In a dark gloomy backroom; making deals on the stair
Rotting smell of the zombies, rising up through the air
The vamps had a vision; they saw a shimmering light
But the 'vision' was faulty and the light was dim
I had to turn to the right...

They wrote thousands of pages;
They thought it went rather well
And I was thinking to myself,
’They think this is heaven, but its more likely hell’
Don't bother to read it; that's not the way;
Ignore the warnings down through history,
And you'll hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel Socialism
Such a perfect place
For her Botoxed face!
Plenty of room at the Hotel Socialism
Any kind of fear, you can stoke it here

The left is tiffany-twisted; it's got the mercedes bends
It wants to help you be victims and just be your friend
But it's all about power; power over you.
It's not your health they plan to save, but your soul too.

So I called in to Congress,
’Do you guys have a clue?
Do you really even understand what your plan will do?'
And still those voices from history, not far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
And you hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel Socialism
Such a perfect place!
For a Botoxed face!
Plenty of room at the Hotel Socialism
Any kind of fear, you can stoke it here

No reflection in mirrors,
As they suck out your blood
You can either be a vampire or some zombie crud
And in the Speaker's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
The stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running to the right
I had to find the passage back
To a place that saw the light
’Relax,’ said the zombies,
'We are programmed to deceive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This study should come as no shock in these postmodern times:
An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin....

Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

The findings are in a new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia.

How proud postmodern thinkers must be that the minds of our next generation have been prepared for the new politics of the political left, which are essentially the same old collectivist politics of the left.

Postmodern philosophical ideas that have permeated all aspects and levels of western culture. Looking back, it is hard to know when this nonsense became so egregious, but I first began to notice it in the early 90's; and when my daughter started school, I became mildly concerned because it already seemed to be established and entrenched in the elementary school curriculum.

In order to have achieved that coup, these ideas must have been around for at least a generation; and absorbed by key people who would later be in positions of educational, artistic and political power and able to multiply the vector of its transmission and inculcation into a new generation.

Ideas are a powerful force in the world. Those who doubt that statement have never studied philosophy and the history of ideas.

Bad ideas are like a potent stench that try as you might with perfumes and deodorizers, you cannot eliminate until you finally break down and take out the trash. Of course, humans can function somewhat with the pervasive smell; but the only reason they survive when bad ideas are driving their actions is because the idea(s) are never applied consistently. If they were to apply the ideas consistently, then they would simply be overcome from the toxic fumes.

How can such ideas thrive? It is relatively easy when you "deconstruct" the Western philosophical tradition and introduce moral relativity; contradictory discourses, deceptive rhetoric; and a pervasive contempt for both reason and truth. The latter attitude, in particular, allows one to develop an amazing and mind-boggling talent for being able to ignore objective reality under any circumstance, expecially when said reality punctures your ideological bubble.

These college students are the children of postmodernism; steeped in the nihilism of our day; marinated in its metaphysics and epistemology. They go to college to learn to think and instead learn how not to. They believe in nothing and stand for nothing. They are taught to mindlessly mouth the same old tired and worn self-serving platitudes of a defunct and dangerous world view. They will become the minions of the left.

Since they do not know how to sift fact from opinion, they can be easily manipulated by postmodern rhetoric.

Since they cannot objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event; they will be easily fooled by superficial appearances and not persist in getting to the truth of a situation. They will believe anything, because they believe nothing. (Here is a counter example of a leftist (via DA TECH GUY) who is beginning to question the rhetoric; who remains in possession of her rational faculty. She should beware, because, by questioning the rhetoric, she is well on her way to becoming rational and rejecting the entire leftist world view--she just doesn't know it yet).

Stephen Hicks writes (pp 195-7)about Jacques Derrida , a well-known postmodern thinker and the creator of "deconstruction"--a literary and philosophical process eagerly taken up by the dead-enders of communism and socialism--which aims to undermine and obliterate the whole of Western philosophical tradition that is the foundation of reason, truth and objective reality:
Derrida too recognizes the kind of world that psotmodernism is bring about and declares his intention not to be among those who let their queasiness get the beter of them. Postmodernists, he writes are those who do not
turn thier eyes away when faced by the as et unnamable which is proclaiming itself and which can do so, as is necessary whenever a birth is in the offng, only under the species of the non species, in the formless, mute, infant and terrifying form of monstrosity.

The bringing forth of monsters is one poetmodern view of the creative process, one that heralds the end of mankind....

Postmodern thinkers inherit n intellectual trdition that has seen the defeat of all of its major hopes. The Counter-Enlightenment was from the beginning suspicious of the Enlightenment's naturalism, its reason, its optimistic view of human potential, its individualism in ethics and politics, and its science and technology. For those opposed to the Enlightenment, the modern world has offered no comfort. The advocates of the Enlightenment said that science was to be the replcement for religion, but science has offered the specters of entropy and relativity. Science was to be the glory of mankind, but it has taught us that man evolved, red in tooth and claw, from the ooze. Science was to make the world a technological paradise, but it has generated nuclear bombs and super-bacilli. And the confidence in the power of reason that underlies it all has, from the postmodernists' perspective, been revealed to be a fraud. The thought of nuclear weapons in the clutches of an irrational, grasping animal is frighteing.

While the neo-Enlightenment thinkers have come to terms with the modern world, from the postmodern perspective the universe has been metaphysically and epistemologically shattered. We cannot turn to God or to nature; and we cannot trust reason or mankind.

But there was always socialism. As bad as the philosphical universe became in metaphysics, epistemology , and the study of human nature, there was still the vision of an ethical and political order that would transcend everything and create the beautiful collectivist society.

Yes, there is always the "perfection" of socialism in the back of the minds of the leftists today; as they slowly but surely push this country toward that waking dream nightmare. And they have a new generation of mindless minions who will vote for a smooth talking, talented non-entity and make him an American Idol. An idol to be worshipped.

In a piece titled "Socialism is Back" Kevin Williamson writes (and please take the time to read the entire essay or to buy Williamson's book):
The aim of public education is, and has always been, to make members of the public more standardized and thus better suited for incorporation into The Plan. It is unsurprising that socialists have taken up the cause with verve. President Obama, speaking to an audience of schoolchildren, described in some detail how he expects the schools to produce students who will serve the needs of the state; unsurprisingly, he cast the situation in terms of his own agenda, emphasizing health care, racial discrimination, and job creation:
What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills, and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that — if you quit on school — you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Obama here is describing a right of eminent domain over the lives of American children, without putting it quite in those words. Obama may be a radical of some sort, but that speech could have been given as easily by George W. Bush or Mitt Romney, and its assumptions would have been precisely the same: The public provision of educational services is understood today, and has long been understood, as a component of national economic planning. (Just don’t ask whether it works!)

Unfortunately, it works to bring forth the next generation of socialist 'monsters' whose lack of critical thinking skills and ability to be swayed by irrational, but slick political rhetoric will assure that they are appropriately worshipful of the Central Plan and follow the will of the Planners.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Most of the readers of this blog know by now that I am a psychiatrist (an M.D. as opposed to a PhD psychologist). I specialize in emergency psychiatry (though I have worked in almost every area of the field, both inpatient and outpatient; and also have expertise in personality disorders and psychopharmacology). In my daily job, I am one of those doctors who is asked to predict behavior that might be a "danger to self" or a "danger to others" and then act to hospitalize the individual, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

The latter case is the more difficult situation, obviously, because if a person does not want to go into the hospital for treatment or, does not think they have a problem (many think I am the one with the problem); then I have the societally-imposed responsibility to determine the the dangerousness of the situation and force them to be hospitalized, if necessary.

Laws about this vary from state to state, of course; and during my 35 year career I have watched as the pendulum has swung against rather indiscriminate involuntary hospitalization of the mentally ill; all the way to overly protecting the rights of the the mentally ill at the expense of their families and the public in general.

Sally Satel reminds us that
"...according to mental-health law, we cannot restrict another’s freedom without first knowing whether he is poised to harm others or himself due to mental illness. Acting weird or lapsing into psychosis, while frightening for everyone and tragic for the ill person, is not, in itself, a crime. Nor does being psychotic necessarily mean one can be treated involuntarily."

This is important to keep in mind. Not everyone who is psychotic is dangerous. And, not everyone who "acts weird" has a mental illness.

I like to think I am good at my job. I have seen a lot of delusional and psychotic individuals over the course of the years. I have seen violent, homicidal and aggressively suicidal people; as well as angry and hostile non-psychotic individuals. I have seen them intoxicated and out of control. I have been knocked unconscious; hit, slapped; had knives and guns pulled on me in the course of my experience. You name it, I have probably seen it dozens of times.

If I do my job correctly, then those individual who are a damger to themselves or to others are temporarily neutralized until they can get help for their mental illness. When it is involuntary, doctors ususally have an initial period of 72 hours; after which a case must be proven in court to keep them longer--one or two 14-day extensions may be granted by the court; or eventually in severe cases, a conservatorship that strips the individual of the ability to make decisions and may result in him or her being placed in a locked facilty. The latter situation is actually rather rare, and even then, conservatorship is not a permanent situation, but one that is fluid and can be nullified if evidence is brought to the court that the person in question is no longer dangerous.

I have had patients say to me things like, "You can lock me up but sooner or later I will get out and do what I want to do"-- e.g., kill themselves or someone else. Sadly, they are correct. I have watched depressed individuals get out of the hospital after a court refuses to keep them hospitalized, and then they promptly go and kill themselves; or, a psychotic person with a delusion be discharged because everyone thought the delusion was under control; but they go and kill someone because it is really still there and they just learned to be really good at hiding it from the doctors. Both of these kinds of tragedies have happened multiple times over the course of my career.

Fortunately, most patients do get better and the suicidality or homicidality recedes.

Nevertheless, one big problem with my job of predicting dangerous behavior is that the consequences of what might have been are unrecordable. The thing about prevention is prevents really bad things from happening. By the very act of preventing a bad thing from happening, you can never then prove that it might have occurred in the first place.

In fact, the only cases that ever make the news are the ones where the court freed the individual from the mental hospital and they do something terrible; or the one's where the doctor did not have a crystal ball and did not foresee correctly a person's behavior.

I've never liked being held responsible for someone else's behavior. It's damn hard to predict what someone is going to do in the next couple of minutes, let alone days or weeks from the time you saw them.

But this is one of the roles that society gives psychiatrists, and, as a libertarian, I have always tried to do the best job I can while respecting an individual's personal liberty as much as possible. It is particularly difficult when the patient refuses to acknowledge that something is wrong with their thinking processes; or when there has not been any specific behaviors that could be deemed dangerous--only hints and suspicions that such danger lurks beneath the surface.

Sometimes you just have to act on "soft" intelligence in making these life or death decisions.

It is a great responsibillity and one I take very seriously. I know that if I intervene I can often change the course of a person's life for the good--at least in the short term. But I also know that sometimes I simply make them angry and hostile toward mental health interventions and drive them away from getting the help they need after they eventually get out of the hospital.

Sometimes people tell me that they are having feelings of wanting to kill themselves; and they tell me the details of how they'd go about it. Occasionally, some patients will confide in me their desire to kill a specific person and ask for my help to stop them from doing this bad thing. When there is honesty and self-awareness, it makes my job a bit easier. But most of the time I have to act on "soft intelligence"

What do I mean by that? Well, most of the time I have to take many little things into consideration; for example:

-How honest do I think a person is being with me in regard to their feelings and intent?
-How honest have they been with me and/or others in the past?
-Do they have a history of ACTING on suicidal or homicidal feelings in the past? (one of the most significant predictors of future behavior is past behavior)
-Is the individual attempting to achieve a particular goal by saying they are suicidal or homicidal--even though they are not; e.g, (1) do they just desire to be be hospitalized and have no real intent to harm themselves or others; or( 2) do they NOT WANT hospitalization because they have real intent to harm themselves or others?
-Do they have the means to actually hurt themselves (e.g., if they have a plan to shoot themselves or someone else--do they actually have a gun at home? or access to a gun?)
-How seriously do their family and friends take the possibility of their suicidality or homicidality?
-How impulsive are they now? How impulsive have they been in the past?
-Are they psychotic, paranoid, or delusional?
-If they are on medication, have they been taking it regularly?
-What kinds of stressors are there in their life right now?

The above list does not include all the considerations and factors that come into play in my assessment, but they are some of the primary ones. A particular person might not meet ALL the criteria above; and each case is different, depending on the situation. I see many people who are what we call "chronically suicidal", meaning that they express suicidal ideation all the time. When is it approriate to hospitalize them, and when is it not?

I also see many intoxicated individuals who, when they are intoxicated with either drugs and/or alcohol are what we refer to as "drunkicidal". In most of these types of cases, when the person returns to normal (i.e., non-intoxicated) they are neither suicidal nor homicidal; and often they can't even remember what they said or did while under the influence.

The underlying reality of all these evaluation and careful consideration about what to do is actually quite painful; and it is this: if a person really wants to kill themselves or someone else, they will succeed eventually. In fact, many if not most of the people who do commit suicide and certainly most of those who commit homicide ARE NOT MENTALLY ILL in the formal sense of the world; that is, they do not suffer from a psychiatric illness. Most never come to the attention of a mental health professional.

But, for those who do come to our attention and who do have a mental illness; then an intervention--even an involuntary hospitalization -- can save lives.

And because people's lives are at stake, I try to err on the side of caution in most cases. The potential consequences are very high, and earlier in my career, I was a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility. I will admit that in the last 30 years, I have made mistakes. Sometimes I hospitalized someone against their will who really had no intention of hurting themselves or someone else. My judgement was incorrect about their imminent homicidality or suicidality. The worse consequence of that error was that the patient hated me and refused to ever see me or any other mental health professionals again.

OK, I can live with that.

But it has also gone the other way. I remember when I didn't hospitalize a patient of mine, because she didn't have the past history of trying to kill herself; had never been suicidal before; and was seemingly very cooperative in therapy. In addition, she didn't even appear to be particularly depressed or psychotic any of the times I saw her; and she was always willing to contract with me for safety. I was an intern at the time and somewhat inexperienced and uncertain what to do, but finally decided to believe the person when she told me that she didn't really have any "plan" to kill herself--and I really couldn't see that she had any real intent.

But to my horror, that person not only killed herself the next day, but she killed another patient who was in treatment with her. I was devastated at the time, and almost left psychiatry because of it.

If I had acted--if I had only known what was in her mind-- two lives could have been saved. Perhaps I could have only delayed what happened if I had acted when I had the chance. I don't know. I will never know. And neither I or anyone else will ever know what is in a person's mind or heart unless they are willing to tell us honestly.

In the end, a person--even a psychiatrist!--can only be responsible for their own actions--not for the actions of someone else.

Since that time I have studied all that there is to know about predicting suicide. I have tried to hone that "instinct" that makes a person aware that someone is not telling the truth. I think I am pretty good at it, and I have come to trust my instinct in these situations. Now, if I have any doubt; if I find myself not quite convinced that a person will be safe, then I go with the doubt.

Because I am completely sure only of this: If I have the opportunity to do something to save a life, then I must do it.

I cannot know the future and I cannot know how someone will behave in the future. But I can use all available information I have at that one point in time; and my own professional skills and experience to the best of my ability to assess each situation individually. I can balance and weigh the hard and soft evidence--and sometimes it is only the soft evidence that I have to work with; balance and weigh the risks and benefits; and make the best decision possible at that moment--for the individual and for the society that makes it my duty and responsibilty to decide.

The way I figure it, if I did not have doubts; if I did not constantly struggle with the decision to hospitalize involuntarily, then I would not be doing my job correctly.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Wretchard quotes Victor Davis Hanson on the left's unreasonable expectations that the handouts should continue no matter what:
He likens the former Golden State to the entitlement addicted pressure groups of Greece who cannot believe the party is over because it has always been going full blast for as long as it can remember. But it can’t be over. The party must continue, but it’s really a Rage Party, Hanson argues; as in Rage Against Reality.
the Greeks are furious at “them.” Furious in the sense that everyone must be blamed except themselves. So they protest and demonstrate that they do not wish to stop borrowing money to sustain a lifestyle that they have not earned—but do not wish to cut ties either with their EU beneficiaries and go it alone as in the 1970s. So they rage against reality.

The same is true of California. Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.

Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green,”and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South, our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.

Dr. Hanson’s observations about the Left’s unreasonable expectations are probably true. But what does he hope to achieve by stating them? Does he hope that against all odds the Left will come to their senses? Perhaps, because that’s the logical thing to do. But history suggests that logic doesn’t always prevail. Historically doomed societies never come to their senses. That’s why they were doomed. Their feedback loop was permanently disconnected; not simply unplugged but bricked over.

The little children who make up the left side of the political spectrum have never learned that reality exists separate from their own wants or desires. They still want what they want when they want it no matter what. And they are prepared to stage a temper tantrum if Mommy or Daddy--or Reality, in this case--say, "No!"

You can ignore reality, but reality will not ignore you.

There are going to be consequences for the wild spending spending spree that states like California and others have been on for some time now--see what's happening in Illinois, for example--and raising everyone's taxes by 60% or more is only going to guarantee MORE disastrous consequences, accelerating the downward spiral:
John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, a non-partisan research group dedicated to free-market principles, says the tax increases could cost 268,000 jobs over the next three to five years.

"When you raise the cost of doing business," he says, "people vote with their feet."

Reality must be faced. The gravy train cannot continue forever. But the left pretends they can continue to suck the blood of those who are productive, so that "progressives" can keep their utopian fantasies intact.

In the vacuous recesses of their own minds, those who deny reality manage to convince themselves that they are "reality-based". One might justifiably ask them why they have an almost obsessive need to so aggressively tout their connection to reality, like some sort of celebrity name-dropper expecting to increase his stature in the eyes of the world: "Oh, by the way," they smirk, "did you know that I'm reality-based?"

Sadly for them, just because one repeatedly claims a close connection to the Big R, does not prove anything one way or the other; nor does it absolve the boaster of providing the requisite evidence to back up their claim. Feelings won't do, I'm afraid; though it is often to those arguments of emotion that the denier will ultimately resort when impeded in his quest to avoid reality.

As a psychiatrist, I would be the last person to suggest that even a primitive and immature psychological defense mechanism like denial didn't have some positive results for the individuals who use it. Obviously, if it resulted in the outright death or dismemberment of the person using it, denial would probably not last long as a viable strategy in the real world; nor would it be particularly helpful for the species as a whole.

As I have said before, denial is used because denial works--at least for a short while--and that is why it is so often resorted to in extremis.

Some of the positive consequences of psychological denial include:

• In the short-term, psychological denial can help a person maintain their sanity--which would be threatened by awareness of a painful truth or reality
• In the short-term, denial can help a person function day to day
• In the short-term, denial can prevent a person from having to acknowledge painful thoughts, feelings or behavior and help them maintain a world view threatened by an unacceptable reality or truth

The operative word in all of the above is "in the short-term." In the short-term, even the unhealthiest of defenses--such as denial, projection, paranoia-- may be creative, healthy, comforting, and coping. And, while their use may strike observers as downright peculiar at times, in the short-term, they may be transiently adaptive.There is even a place for fantasy in a healthy person's psyche.

In fact, psychological denial is a way to integrate one's experience by providing a variety of filters for pain and mechanisms for self-deception. It creatively rearranges the sources of conflict the individual faces so that the conflict becomes manageable.

But the "short-term" of the left's denial has come to an end.

Today's political left are the hands-down, gold medal winners in the Denial of Reality Sweepstakes. Watch them spin, lie, distort and finally resort to personal attacks on their critics without any debate on the facts--and learn all you need to know about their creatively dysfunctional coping.

Reality is coming for them. The spectacle would be interesting if only they did not intend to drag the rest of us along with them into the abyss.

They can rage against reality all they want. It won't change anything. But I imagine that getting all those intense feelings out will be sufficient for the children of the left, since that is the only 'reality' they care about or understand.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Veronique de Rugy has a nice graph up at The Corner showing how ineffective the debt ceiling has been in reining in the national debt:
When it was instituted over 70 years ago, the statutory debt limit was intended to control congressional spending by limiting the amount of debt that the federal government could accumulate. Clearly, it has not fulfilled its legislative purpose. In the last ten years, Congress has increased the debt limit ten times, raising the limit twice annually in 2008 and 2009. This data provides evidence that the debt limit, far from providing its intended fiscal discipline, has recently served as a symbolic cap that Congress will simply push higher and higher as spending increases dictate.

The spending addicts of Congress are not restrained by this statutory limit because, like addicts of all stripes, when there are no consequences to one's bad behavior, then behavior is unlikely to change.

And unfortunately, there is no effective rehab for congressional overspenders many of whom deny they even have a problem (just like most other addicts).

Now, if we could send the lawmakers lawbreakers to jail for failure to follow the law....

Sunday, January 09, 2011


One of the more interesting emails I received yesterday after the unfolding of the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of others, including a Federal judge in Arizona, was the following:
"This is what comes of spewing hate, you fascist pig!"

I find it interesting primarily because it encapsulates in an enlightening way the leftist mindset which has been described in the last several posts on Dr. Sanity.

I have not met or examined the individual who is in custody for this horrific attack. But I have read quite a bit of information about him now. Making a reasonable clinical determination (which will be impacted obviously by forthcoming information also); and based on his own writings and behaviors that were described prior to this incident, my best assessment is that Jared Loughner was likely suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a real physiological illness that usually begins in late adolescence, early adulthood; and it is like a youthful dementia; slowly tearing down the neural pathways in the brain and causing deteriorating cognitive functioning. The paranoia comes about as the person suffering from the disease tries to make sense of all the irrational, distorted and bewildering perceptions that their malfunctioning brain is attempting to interpret.

Paranoid schizophrenics almost always have bizarre political and/or religious agendas. Their delusions almost always have relevance to the current political situation and context within which they live. I can give you hundreds of examples from my personal experience treating them: the CIA or other "secret" agencies are tapping into their minds; the "government" (and I have seen U.S., British, and multiple other governments implicated depending on the national origins of the individual in question) is out to destroy them because they know something they should not; they alone understand the urgency of the threat. When the Patty Hearst kidnapping occurred decades ago, almost all the schizophrenics I saw had delusions related to Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army. More recently, a paranoid schizophrenic that I evaluated thought that President Bush practiced dark magic to force people into 'volunteering' for the military and that this was why no military draft was needed to get recruits to go to Iraq.

The paranoid person himself is always at the center of some vast conspiracy that only he can see. He is special because of it--and this specialness likely compensates for whatever awareness he might have of his deterioring intellectual and social functioning. As that functioning gets more chaotic and dysfunctional, the paranoid gets even more desperate to explain what is happening to him and his world, and the delusions become more and more complex and eventually may have no connection at all to anything in the real world.

In my career as a psychiatrist I have encountered many psychotic and schizophrenic individuals with religious and anti-religious delusions.

One study suggests that those patients with religious delusions are suffering from a particularly virulent form of schizophrenia, where the potential for self-harm or harm to others is significantly increased. The study concluded that "religious delusions are commonly found in schizophrenia and that by comparison with other patients who have schizophrenia, those patients with religious delusions appear to be more severely ill."

Such delusions may even occur in people who were never religious prior to their illness. Or it may happen in reverse--if the individual was raised in a very religious household, their delusion takes on a virulent anti-religous form. And in the sickest individuals, it all may be combined with delusions of grandeur, where the person believes they are some figure of religious and historical import. I, myself, have personally met Jesus Christ (several times), St. Theresa, the Pope, Lucifer, and a variety of other assorted religious icons, demons, and devils.

At least, that was what they told me at the time.

Those raised in a predominantly Christian culture had delusions of a Christian nature. But I have also seen Hindus, Buddhists, and American Indians with religious delusions that took on the form of their own culture's predominant religion. Interestingly, the one person I saw who had been a committed atheist prior to becoming psychotic, thought he was the "Devil" and the "King of Evil" when his brain strayed from reality.

These people are truly sick in every medical/physiological/biological sense of the word.

It takes a truly 'sick' person, in every philosophical/moral/spiritual and ethical sense of the word to say that such an ill person's motivations are the exact motivations of those with whom they happen to disagree.

I have been treating schizophrenic patients for almost 35 years now. The point is that their illness impairs their cognitive functioning. Schizophrenics have a biological cause for their dysfunction.

I wonder what my emailer's excuse for his behavior is?

I suspect it derives from the voluntary suspension of his cognitive functioning in order to maintain a certain worldview or ideology that explains a disturbing reality he does not want to face.

This is exactly why I often speak of psychological defenses.

Those who read my blog know that I use psychiatric and psychological concepts to describe behavior; and because of that, many people on the left accuse me of labeling anyone who disagrees with me politically as having a mental illness.

This is not true; and it suggests that most of these critics know little about psychiatry, psychiatric diagnoses, or even the concept of psychological defenses.

While I do believe that some of the people I describe might indeed have a mental illness; and that some are actually perfectly healthy but simply malevolent or evil; it is simply not the case that by exposing certain psychological defense mechanisms that explain theiroutwardly observable behavior, I am giving the political opposition a medical/psychiatric diagnosis. Nevertheless, if a particular diagnosis fits, I am perfectly content to let them wear it.

In discussing psychological defense mechanisms, what I am trying to do is understand how and why people behave in the way that they do. Describing psychological defenses is not the same thing as "making a diagnosis" for one very simple reason. All humans utilize psychological defenses, all the time. Both Democrat and Republican; Left and Right. Good and Bad.

Psychological defenses are involuntary (usually), regulatory coping processes. By themselves, defenses are not evidence of "illness". However, when used, they may appear to be "sick," evil, or even irrational; but basically, they reflect a creative adaptation to the world.

Because of their cognitive impairment, schizophrenics invariably use the most primitive and low-level defenses like paranoia; delusional projection; psychotic denial. However, it is important to remember that such defenses are also available to anyone who willingly suspends cognitive functioning--i.e., thir mind-- in order to hold onto dysfunctional ideas or beliefs that buttress them against an unpleasant reality or truth. The latter individuals have no desire to return to the real world; while the schizophrenic sadly cannot return without medication (and even the ones we use to help them frequently work very imperfectly).

The old joke about "how many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb" is appropriate here: "just one....but the lightbulb really has to want to change." Many people have no desire to change and conform to reality. They will maintain their dysfunctional defenses no matter what the cost. Self reflection and insight are far too dangerous for such people, and even death is sometimes preferable to altering their beliefs or fantasies about the real world.

Clearly, their distress about the possibility of changing themselves or their beliefs is far greater than any potential consequences they might experience by using an immature, unhealthy and dysfunctional psychological defense to avoid reality. This is 'sick' but it is a sickness of the soul; not a biological illness.

From the intense rage and irrationality expressed in his written words to me, I suspect that my emailer has such a sickness of the soul.

In the days to come, we will learn more about the mass killer in Tuscon and his supposed motives and background. He may not be schizophrenic--I am only basing my judgment on a limited, but highly suggestive, amount of information. If I am wrong in my analysis of the information about Loughner that is already publically available, then I will admit it willingly.

I do not think my emailer will do likewise because he will ignore any information that does not conform to his precious worldview. Either way--for Loughner and my emailer, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, January 07, 2011


K.E. Campbell thinks that we are witnessing the varied symptoms of a political disease, and are only prepared to treat the symptoms of it, but not the underlying sickness:

The biggest challenge facing Republicans in the 112th Congress is not Barack Obama. It is not Harry Reid and the Democrat-controlled Senate. It isn't high unemployment, repealing ObamaCare, the threat of Islamism and shariah in America, the deficit, or the looming insolvency of several (mostly blue) states. These, broadly speaking, are symptoms. The disease is socialism or, at the very least, a pervasive socialistic mindset.

According to a February 2010 Gallup poll, "61% of liberals say their image of socialism is positive" and "53% of Democrats have a positive image of socialism." Overall, 36% of Americans view socialism favorably.

Winston Churchill aptly described socialism as "a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." As economist Thomas Sowell put it, "Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

If you watched the video at the end of this post, you should have few illusions left about the ultimate outcome of socialist systems. Unfortunately, the "intellectuals' that Sowell refers to are mostly in the habit of covering up for and rationalizing away the evidence of their own eyes, since they believe they support a "higher truth" than the rest of us ordinary mortals.

Victor Davis Hanson exposes these intellectuals for the sophists they really are. From the "brilliant" economists of the Obama Administration who, "assured us that record trillion-plus budget defects were critical to prevent stalled growth and 10 percent unemployment"; to the gurus of global warming climate change climate chaos; to the casual dismissal of the Constitution as being too "old", and therefore irrelevant; all the examples that Hanson provides have the same delusion:

One constant here is equating wisdom with a certificate of graduation from a prestigious school. If, in the fashion of the sophist Protagoras, someone writes that record cold proves record heat, or that record borrowing and printing of money will create jobs and sustained economic growth, or that a 223-year-old Constitution is 100 years old and largely irrelevant, then credibility can be claimed only in the title or the credentials — but not the logic — of the writer.

America is huge and diverse, but the world of our credentialed experts is quite small, warped, and monotonous — circumscribed largely by the prestigious university and an office in the incestuous Washington–New York corridor. There are plenty of prizes, honors, and degrees among our policy-setters and experts, but very little experience in running a business in Oklahoma, raising a large family in Kansas, or working on an assembly line in Michigan, a military base in Texas, a boat in Alaska, or a ranch in Idaho.

In classical sophistic fashion, rhetoric is never far from personal profit. Multimillionaire Al Gore convinced the governments of the Western world that they were facing a global-warming Armageddon, and then hired out his services to address the hysteria that he had helped create.
[Read all of Hanson's essay, please. It is worth your while]

Now, I have nothing against personal profit, but in this case we are talking about scams and con jobs; snake-oil salesmen (and women) and your run-of-the-mill con artists who are posing as these "neutral", "truth-loving" and "reality-based" scientists and journalists. And, isn't it interesting that all these supposed 'intellectuals' (who are the ones most profiting off of the various hysterias and cons that they themselves initiated) also tend to be downright suspicious of the profit motive and capitalism--if not outrightly hostile to it?

You can look at it in this way: even the most dedicated socialist or communist tends to be a human being (though I could argue that a case could be made for the idea that some of the most infamous in history are rather less than human). Nevertheless, they are hardly immune from the inconvenient truth of human nature. And so I will say again what I have said many times and many ways before in this blog:

The problem with the underlying ideology of socialism/communism/Marxism--whatever you want to call it-- is that it inevitably breeds and encourages envy, that lovely human emotion that drives all such economic/political systems; and the envy generated in these totalitarian systems exists in a pure, unadulterated, undiluted, and particularly vicious form.

Yes, to be sure, capitalism also thrives on envy--and even greed. Those two emotions are part and parcel of human nature, after all. But there is very important difference between capitalism and all the other systems: capitalism does not condemn human nature or expect a "new man" to emerge in order for it to be successful for individuals or society as a whole.

Instead, unlike those other systems that seek to perfect human beings, capitalism offers a healthy channel for the redirection of negative emotions like envy and greed into something positive for both the individual and the larger society.

Capitalism does not pretend that those messy negative human emotions can be "stamped out" merely by the will of the State. It accepts human nature as a given and provides a system through which humans are able to sublimate and redirect those negative emotions to better both themselves and incidentally the larger society. As economic systems go, this is a miraculous psychological breakthrough; and it is why capitalism dovetails so nicely with political systems that promote individual freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Taken all together, democratic capitalism is about as close to "perfection" as humans are likely to get.

Without a political or economic framework that is able to incorporate what we refer to as "human nature" into its calculations, all so-called "perfect" societies and ideologies will at best simply fail in the real world; and at worse cause untold human suffering. With the best of intentions (this is perhaps debatable), the social engineers of philosophy, political science, and economics have caused so much more slavery, misery and death on a grand scale--that the grandiose CEO's of the largest corporations can be considered mere pikers by comparison.

The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists--offers the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.

The capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profit, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must want what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.

There are no parallel social limitations on the behavior of the leftist. This tyrant wannabe does not feel the need to convince others of the veracity or even the effectiveness of his ideas; nor does he accept defeat when others are not interested or resist their implementation. He knows in his heart what is best for everyone, and he will use coercion if necessary. He will not allow options; nor will he permit others do do what they think is right for themselves. Their feelings or concerns are a matter of complete indifference to him. Only his own matter.

The credentialed delusions of today's "intellectual elite" are simply the latest scam perpetrated by those who are willing to distort or fake reality in order to either profit monetarily from the chaos (and in a system where the rule of law protects people from this kind of fraud, they will eventually be held accountable); or to gain power over others. The latter goal is much more in keeping with the modus operandi of the political left.

Psychopaths are particularly good at pursuing both goals; and they will exist in all economic and political systems. But, in those lovely socialist systems an intelligent psychpath can make his wildest dreams of power over others come true. The rule of law won't stand against him; instead, it will give the psychopath the edge and make his manipulations --and his personal enrichment--much easier.

This is the underlying political sickness that must be treated aggressively; before the sociopathic elite, with their credentialed delusions of their own superiority, take complete control over our lives and our fortunes.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


World Affairs Joshua Muravchik thinks that the Arab world has a glaring deficit in epistemology:
In a recent article, Khaled Abu Toameh, the Palestinian journalist who moved from the Palestinian press to the Jerusalem Post so that he could practice his profession with integrity, recalled that “Mahmoud Abbas’s official news agency, Wafa, reported that Israel had released poison-resistant rats to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes.” The Wafa report claimed that “settlers flood the Old City of Jerusalem with rats.” Abu Toameh added sardonically: “It is not clear how these rats were taught to stay away from Jews, who also happen to live in the Old City.”

Abu Toameh may not have considered the possibility that Israel’s infamous spy agency, Mossad, had found a way to train rats to infest only gentiles. There is now evidence that the Mossad has adapted this technique for use with sharks. Earlier this month at least two sharks attacked five European tourists off Sharm al-Sheik, Egypt, killing one. No Israeli swimmers were targeted by the sharks. According to the governor of Southern Sinai, Abed Al-Fadij, “We must not discount the possibility that Mossad threw the shark into the sea, in order to attack tourists who are having fun in Sharm al-Sheikh. Mossad is trying to hurt Egyptian tourism in any way possible, and the shark is one way for it to realize its plan.”

Apparently Egyptian tourism ranks right up there with the Iranian nuclear program as a threat to Israel. Another top threat is Mexican lawmaking. I learned this in Jeddah three years ago, when one of the barons of Saudi industry hosted me for lunch in his elegant executive dining room. In excellent English, this influential Saudi told me about the Israel spy agency’s bungled attempt to blow up the Mexican legislature.

Why would the Israelis want to bomb the Mexican legislature? My host was not sure, but he assured me that “everyone knows” they had done it. I persisted in my skepticism, explaining that I had not heard of this incident in any US news outlet. “Of course,” replied my host. “They’ve suppressed the story.” There was no need for him to remind me that Jews control the news media. What he also couldn’t explain was how the omnipotent Mossad could have botched the job.

This, after all, is the same agency that not only knows how to manipulate rats and sharks to spare Jews like the angel of death who passed over Jewish homes to persuade Pharaoh to let Moses lead the Jews out of Egypt. It is also the agency managed to warn 4,000 Jewish employees at the World Trade Center not to come to work on September 11, 2001, or to pass the warning on to their non-Jewish coworkers — a fact known to tens of millions of people across the Arab world.

There are laughs aplenty to be found in such stories, but in the end they are quite chilling. In 2002, a groundbreaking Arab Human Development report, written by a team of Arab scholars for the UN Development Program, pointed to three crippling deficits in the Arab world: freedom, knowledge, and women’s participation. These are indeed weaknesses in need of remediation.

But perhaps none is as glaring or damaging as the deficit of epistemology. Yes, in part the widespread Arab credulity toward the most cockamamie stories may reflect the region’s low rates of education. But my Saudi interlocutor was university-educated, and so in all likelihood was the Egyptian governor of South Sinai and the Wafa journalist who sniffed out the Israeli rat stratagem. So what we have here is a deficit not of knowledge but of the ability to make mature judgments about what is plausible and what is not.

Metaphysics and Epistemology are key branches of Philosophy. The first concerns itself with answering the question, "What is Existence?"; and the second with, "How do we know it?"

These are two of the most important questions in life; and almost all of the major controversies of our time boil down to one or the other.

Unfortunately, it is not only the Muslim/Arab world that happens to be infected with a major deficit in epistemology (thought they are in a more advanced stage of the disease); even western civilization--the bastion of reason and science-- has become horribly infested with philosophical insanities that pervert the very concepts of reality, truth, and knowledge.

What is most amazing, however, is how those who most distort these concepts frequently resort to "science" and "scientific principles" to justify their political delusions about what is real and what is true. Marxist, socialist, and communist regimes often tout their adherence to these same scientific priniciples to justify and lend credence to even the most horrific actions of their leaders. "GLORY TO SOVIET SCIENCE" comes to mind.

Let us talk about how knowledge is acquired in the real world, for a moment (and parts of the following come from a 2007 post I wrote on a related subject).

Empiricism is a theory which holds that the origin of all knowledge is the experience of our senses. The term also refers to the method of observation and experiment used in the natural sciences. Often, empiricism is contrasted with rationalism, a theory which holds that the mind may apprehend some truths directly, without requiring the medium of the senses.

The dispute between rationalism and empiricism takes places within epistemology, the branch of philosophy devoted to studying the nature, sources and limits of knowledge. And one of the important questions in epistemology is, "What does it mean to "know" something as opposed to merely having an opinion?" As you can see, this is not only a question that plagues the blogsphere and all political discourse; it is an issue that has been at the core of Western philosophy since before Socrates.

Until it is answered, all other questions become unsolvable.

Rationalism and empiricism are not conflicting philosophical concepts, so much as they are complementary ones. For example in some areas of mathematics, rationalism is clearly the method used to obtain knowledge and ideas about the universe; while in the physical sciences, empiricism generally rules.

G.W. Leibniz in New Essays on Human Understanding makes the following excellent argument to illustrate this (page 150 -151):
"The senses, although they are necessary for all our actual knowledge, are not sufficient to give us the whole of it, since the senses never give anything but instances, that is to say particular or individual truths. Now all the instances which confirm a general truth, however numerous they may be, are not sufficient to establish the universal necessity of this same truth, for it does not follow that what happened before will happen in the same way again. . . From which it appears that necessary truths, such as we find in pure mathematics, and particularly in arithmetic and geometry, must have principles whose proof does not depend on instances, nor consequently on the testimony of the senses, although without the senses it would never have occurred to us to think of them…"

Whatever the conflicts and disagreements philosophically between empiricism and rationalism they are actually complementary mental processes; and it seems reasonable to conclude that optimally gathering knowledge of the real world requires the use of both capabilities.

On a primal level, our senses give us direct information about reality; and our brain is then capable of using rational deductive and inductive processes as a meta-process to evaluate that information further.

However you cut it, it seems clear that OUR MINDS are the source of our knowledge of the world, and while a given mind might be corrupted by a variety of factors, and its reliability may be suspect at times; the mind is the best tool we have for understanding and evaluating reality.

Certain very popular ideologies today subscribe to the notion that the human mind is incapable of knowing the real world because there is no world out there that exists separately from our senses.

In other words, everything that exists is all in our heads!

And, furthermore, these savants go on to tell us, what's in your head is no better than what's in my head.

When you think about it, these are rather amazing assertions, particularly the last, since it is inherently contradictory. Those who fervently believe this are essentially Cretans--or rather, they suffer from a variation of the famous Cretan Paradox. "What is in your head is no better than what is in my head" is a statement of absolutes which presupposes that the "my head" person is correct --i.e., what's in his head about this issue is the absolute truth--that what he "thinks" is no better or worse than what you think.

But, what if what's in your head tells you differently--i.e., what if you think you think better than him? Personally, I get a bad headache just thinking about the mental contortions necessary to formulate this theory in the first place.

In fact, almost all applications of postmodern philosophy (for that is what this crazy philosophical theory is called)--from art criticism to politics; and psychology from philosophy and rhetoric to science--result in a pervasive blurring and distortion of reality, rather than in its understanding.

'Science' which is based on the metaphysics and epistemology of Postmodernism essentially deconstructs both empiricism and rationalism ; and detaches science from truth.

In other words, where science fails to support an ideology, the absolute and overriding imperative of putting that ideology into practice means that science has to suspend its very essence as a truth-seeking activity and instead perpetrate lies.

If you think this is a rare occurrance these days, then I refer you to this instance of a supposed "scientist", who blatantly and unapologetically has rejected reason and truth in order to politically advance his own theories about climate change.

And this is where postmodern philosophy is really particularly handy for its proponents: when one wants to advance a pet political idea, without having to be bothered by those pesky concepts of reality or truth.

Back when the entire premises underlying postmodern philosophy were first beginning to make their way up the idea food chain, its theorists had a simple objective: to preserve faith and religion, which they believed was under siege from reason and logic.

Ironically, the epistemological basis for postmodernism has its origins in this desire to preserve both faith and religion.

Philosopher Stephen Hicks notes:
By the late 1700s religious thinkers had a choice—accept evidence and logic as the ultimate court of appeal and thereby reject their deeply-cherished religious ideals—or stick by their ideals and attack the whole idea that evidence and logic matter. “I had to deny knowledge,” wrote Kant in the Preface to the first Critique, “in order to make room for faith.” “Faith,” wrote Kierkegaard in Fear and trembling, “requires the crucifixion of reason”; so he proceeded to crucify reason and glorify the irrational.

Thus Kant and others in the 18th and 19th centuries paved the way (unintentionally, of course; but ideas do have consequences) for the more recent 20th and 21st century postmodern attacks on reason, logic and reality. Postmodernism is merely the latest incarnation of the Kantian rejection of reason in order to “make room for faith”. The irony is that in today's postmodern world, it is the supposed champions of reason and logic--scientists--and those that like to call themselves "the reality-based"community" who have wholly embraced religion and faith as primary, though it is an entirely secularized religion and perfectly godless faith.

I think that even Kant would be appalled.

Have you ever wondered why the political left is so relentlessly hostile to Christianity and Judaism? The answer is simple—they are in competition with these religions for the hearts of the people. The ideology of the left has evolved into a religion that is essentially even more fundamental (and certainly more fanatical) than either Christianity or Judaism--both of which had their more toxic elements blunted by the rationality of the Enlightenment. Interestingly, the left regularly makes common cause with a third religion, sharing with Islam a fundamentally postmodern view of both metaphysics and epistemology.

In the ensuing 300 years since Kant critiqued pure reason, religion--i.e., Christianity and Judaism-- have more or less come to an uneasy compromise with those who recognize the importance of reason, logic, and reality in the real world. This is almost certainly the psychological foundation of the Western concept of "the separation of church and state"; which is a very bold strategy designed to keep the fundamental conflict at bay and allow the independent development of both these spheres of human experience unimpeded by the other (sort of like "don't ask, don't tell").

The left refuses to accept such constraints on their religion, and have embraced postmodern rhetoric and politics with religious fervor in order to save their own sacred beliefs about socialism. This time instead of rescuing faith from reason and logic, they have managed to rescue science from those terrible shackles; and thuse they can make science whatever they want it to be; and have it say whatever they need it to say.

It is immensely interesting to observe how the left's topsy-turvy thinking about this conundrum works: realistically, rationally, and logically the left finds itself unable to criticize the excesses of Islam in any way, shape or form--without exposing for even the most dim-witted to be able to observe the fatal flaws and contradictions in their own religion--which disavows reality, reason, and logic.

Thus, the Muslim and Arab world has a fundamental philosophical connection with the today's leftist totalitarians. Both subscribe to the same philosophical insanities that are necessary to perpetuate an anti-reality, anti-truth, and anti-human worldview.